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What will 2013 hold for Australian solar?

8th Jan 2013

With a new year upon us, the big question must be asked - what's next for Australian solar?

Last year ended with the publication of the Climate Change Authority's (CCA) verdict on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) review.

Its main recommendation was to keep the LRET at 41,000 GWh - surely a victory for those craving some policy stability in the area of renewable energy.

It remains to be seen how the government reacts to the review's recommendations. No doubt their response will be keenly awaited in many circles.

The CCA review capped off a year of ups and downs for the local solar industry, in particular with respect to declining feed-in tariffs.

For one industry voice however, things are looking good for 2013.

Renew Economy has looked ahead to what the next twelve months have in store for Australian solar, and according to columnist Sophie Vorrath, they like what they see on the horizon.

In the article, published at the end of December, Ms Vorrath pointed to solid developments in 2012 as evidence of building momentum in the local solar industry.

These included passing the milestone of having 2 GW of Australian PV installations last November.

She highlighted the opening of Australia's first utility-scale solar farm in October at Geraldton, WA, and the 20 MW farm planned for Royalla.

However, the area of greatest growth might be located elsewhere.

"The real movement could come in off-grid solar installations, possibly in a hybrid model with diesel and/or gas."

She predicts ARENA will play a critical role in getting any such projects off the ground.

She also pointed to the local emergence of the large-scale community solar.

The LIVE Community Power project at the South Melbourne Market is in development. This community solar project plans to install about 3,000 solar panels through local investor funding to the tune of $1,000 a share.

The project's organisers are marketing it as an opportunity for local apartment dwellers and others who don't have a suitable roof to install a solar panel on to get involved in and benefit from solar power.

This is the first such project in Australia, but reflects an emerging trend in other markets.

"Could this be the start of something?" asked the Renew Economy columnist.

As for commercial scale solar, Ms Vorrath was in no doubts as to the possibility of momentum finally building in this sector.

"[T]here's too many rooftops, too much sun, and too many grid price rises to ignore the opportunity".

Posted by Mike Peacock

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